This is a huge topic, and I’m only going to touch on it very briefly here, but on Saturday I was listening to the Today programme and heard a piece about encouraging teachers to be more loving in the classroom.
The first speaker, Dr Andrew Curran, talked about engaging hearts and the minds would follow, and said that he would like to see “each individual child feeling important, respected, confident with the adult that’s in the class with them.”
His interlocutor, a secondary school teacher, said he had concerns about that “I worry if we’ve got to be loving our children rather than setting boundaries,” he said.
I was stunned. This man genuinely believed that it was an either/or, you either set boundaries or you were loving. If that is what the people in positions of authority in our culture think, what hope is there for the next generation?
Dr Curran came back at him and pointed out that love absolutely involves setting boundaries. Letting the kids do whatever they want is not loving – especially in the example the teacher had used in which a child had stabbed himself in the arm with a compass. Letting him bleed to death is not loving!
People have confused love with fun and with pally-ness. This teacher clearly thought Dr Curran was saying ‘just be their friend’, (or actually, their parent, revealing how good the parents in his experience are at setting loving boundaries!!). ‘Have a laugh, make the classroom a fun place to be, and forget these silly things like rules and regulations.’
Love, as Dr Curran pointed out “is actually to do with the selfless, egoless acceptance and understanding of other human beings and then supporting them in a constructive way to help them move forward.”
As the old adage goes: ‘I love you just the way you are, and I love you too much to let you stay that way.’